School Board candidate Alvarez shares plan for Nola


School Board candidate Alvarez shares plan for Nola

Natalie Reich, Contributing Writer Lauren Gaines

On Monday Oct. 3, Tulane College Democrats, alongside Amnesty International, Generating Excellence Now and Tomorrow in Education, and Students for Educational Reform hosted Orleans Parish School Board hopeful David Alvarez as he came to Tulane to discuss his vision for New Orleans schools.

On Nov. 8, Alvarez will be challenging incumbent District 6 representative, Woody Koppel, to represent public schools in the Carrollton/Tulane area of Uptown New Orleans. During the event on Monday, Alvarez elaborated on his election platform, which included bringing innovation back to charter schools, creating transparency and accountability in the education system and increasing the quality and equality of education for all of the young people in the city.

A focal point of Alvarez’s campaign has been to restore education in New Orleans to standards preceding Hurricane Katrina in 2005. According to the Louisiana Department of Education, before Katrina hit New Orleans, there were 65,000 students enrolled in New Orleans schools. Once the school year resumed following the storm, however, approximately 16,000 students were enrolled.

Additionally, by fall of 2014, 92 percent of New Orleans students were enrolled in private schools instead of public schools.

Tulane senior Kelsey Reynolds has seen what Alvarez describes as the dysfunctional state of the New Orleans public school system firsthand by working with organizations such as Upward Bound, an after-school program meant to equip students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the tools needed to go to college.

“All of my students that are predominantly black want to go to college and dream of that yet they don’t seem to be equipped with the tools to actually do so,” Reynolds said. “The charter schools seem to really push this dream yet fail their students in getting there. I think the charter schools sell a great bill of goods, yet, in practice things don’t work out that way.”

Alvarez said he hopes that if charter schools in New Orleans innovate, more children will end up enrolled in public schools.

“We have such stark inequalities that there are groups of our citizens that choose not to put their kids in the public system, they pay for the private option,” Alvarez said. “Maybe charters can attract some of these parents to bring their kids back into public education.”

During the discussion, Alvarez shared how he is a firm believer in smaller student populations and repurposing buildings to create more schools.

“[New Orleans should be] focusing on models that have small student populations that occupy a portion of the building, and the other portions of the building are purposed for community use,” Alvarez said. “Non-profit businesses could open up shop in those places. They can serve the community’s needs right there, and then the kids in those buildings can watch community models.”

Some Tulane students attended the event to hear Alvarez’s plans for the surrounding community. After looking into Alvarez’s campaign, sophomore Elizabeth Hwang said she aligns with his views.

“While I’m not well-versed in the state of New Orleans public schools, it sounds like David Alvarez has extremely impressive ideas on how he wants to revitalize the public school system,” Hwang said. ” I think New Orleans is a culturally-rich area that could benefit from having reliable access to public education.”

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